Workplace productivity statistics in the UK

All the facts and figures surrounding productivity in the UK
 
Andrew Fennell photo Andrew Fennell | February 2024

Employee productivity is crucial in the UK as it directly contributes to economic growth, competitiveness, and overall business success, enhancing the nation’s global standing.

How productive are UK employees? Where are employees most productive – in the office or at home? Is diet or music boosting a productivity of an employee? Do productivity software and AI tools affect workplace productivity?

We’ve gathered all the vital statistics from latest surveys, studies and reports and compiled them in this one-stop workplace productivity resource page.

 

 

Key workplace productivity statistics

  • The UK productivity rate is £46.92 of output per hour worked.
  • The average UK employee works for 8 hours a day but is productive only for 2 hours and 53 minutes.
  • London is over 50% more productive than any other region in the UK.
  • A 4-day work week could lead to an increase in productivity of 10%
  • 83% of employees say that working from home means they are able to work more productively
  • A third of all workers said social media scrolling is a major work distraction and productivity killer
  • 77% of Millennials say a flexible work schedule enhances their productivity
  • Lost productivity costs employers $1.8 trillion each year
  • AI has the potential to automate 300 million full-time jobs globally

 

UK productivity rate

 

How productive are UK employees?

How productive are workers in the UK and how do we compare to our global peers?

  • The UK productivity rate is £46.92 of output per hour worked according to the latest ONS data [1]
  • UK productivity is lower than in France, Germany and the United States. On GDP per hour worked, the UK was in the 4th place among the G7 countries [2]
  • The average UK employee works for 8 hours a day but is productive only for 2 hours and 53 minutes, according to a recent survey [3]
  • Just 21% of employees, believe that they are productive throughout the day [3]
  • The productivity in the United Kingdom is 24% lower than it could have been if it had maintained its pre-financial crisis trajectory [4]
  • According to the ONS, labour productivity decreased by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, marking the weakest annual growth since 2013, excluding the COVID-19 pandemic [5]

 

Who is most productive in the UK?

Who are the most productive people, places and sectors in the UK according to the latest data?

 

Industry

  • The administrative service and construction sectors are the most productive industries in the UK (0.5% of labour productivity contribution)
  • The administrative service and construction industries made the biggest upward industry contribution to productivity growth in the UK from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023, adding an extra 0.8% to the growth [6]
  • The IT and Information Services sector in the UK has experienced the most significant boost in productivity, with a YoY growth of 71% since Q4 2022 [7]
  • The UK productivity growth is primarily fuelled by a small fraction of high-performing companies, as a report from the Financial Times showed that just 10% of businesses were responsible for 63% of annual growth in labour productivity [8]

 

UK industry productivity

 

Age

  • Boomer workers are most likely to feel productive (52%), while feelings of productivity are lower among Gen Z (39%) and Millennials (38%) [9]
  • 31% of retired workers aged 55+ believe that companies view older workers as less motivated and productive [10]
  • Companies with a 10% higher share of employees aged 50+ are 1% more productive [13]

 

Gender

  • Men still work more than women – an average of 3 hours per week, while women work an average of 27.8 hours per week [11]
  • Women work 10% harder than men in today’s offices [20]
  • Women-run businesses are about 11% less productive than men-run businesses [12]

 

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Cities & regions

  • London is over 50% more productive than any other region in the UK, according to research by Durham University Business School [14]
  • London is the only major city in the UK that has above-average productivity. Although even in London, productivity growth has slowed significantly since the financial crash [15]
  • As for the regions, Wales sees second-highest productivity growth in the UK– a 7% increase from 2011 to 2021 [16]
  • The North East of England has the lowest level (-17.4%) of output per hour worked[17]

 

Top 10 most productive regions in the UK

RankRegionAverage Gross Value Added per hour (£)
1London43.1
2South West37
3Scotland33.4
4East of England32.8
5North West31
6North East30.8
7West Midlands30.7
8East Midlands30.6
9Yorkshire and the Humber30
10Wales28.6

Source: The Hub Events

 

Employment status

  • Self-employed people are adding an extra 6 hours to productive work annually in comparison to their employed counterparts. This amounts to approximately 20 additional working days [18]

 

Where are employees most productive?

In the dynamic landscape of modern work environments, the question of where employees are most productive has become a focal point of discussion. What’s the productivity balance when working from office VS working from home?

 

Productivity in the office

  • 49% of employees are feeling more productive working from the office compared to 51% of employees who feel more productive when working from home, a study from RingCentral has found [19]
  • Based on an eight-hour workday, office workers typically unproductive for 5 hours and 37 minutes daily [3]
  • Nearly a quarter of office employees said their boss distracted them from doing their work, which affected their productivity [21]

 

Productivity when working from home

  • 83% of employees say that working from home means they are able to work more productively [22]
  • According to a recent survey from Zing, 59% of the younger workforce believe they would be more productive – if they worked remotely, from anywhere in the world [23]
  • While working from home, women are four times more likely to be perceived as being less productive than their male counterparts [24]
  • 77% of finance professionals in the UK feel they are more productive when working remotely [25]

 

What makes people more productive?

In this section we examine various productivity factors ranging from food choices and habits to the impact of music, preferred time of the day, and the significance of flexible work schedules.

 

Food & nutrition

  • 77% of Gen Z and millennials in the UK believe that taking a proper lunch break significantly enhances their productivity upon returning to work. And 67% of baby boomers share the same sentiment [26]
  • Employees who have an unhealthy diet have a 66% higher chance of encountering a decline in productivity compared to individuals who consistently consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetables [27]

 

Music

  • 79% of employees said they’re more productive if they listen to music while they work [28]

 

Factors making workers more productive

 

Time of the day

  • 5% of early risers are more likely to be productive [29]
  • Less than half of late risers (48.6%) considered themselves highly productive, whereas 2% of those who woke up before 7 am claimed the same level of productivity [29]
  • 71% of workers agree the late afternoon is the worst time for work, with productivity plummeting between 3 and 6 pm [30]

 

Work hours

  • 77% of Millennials say a flexible work schedule enhances their productivity [31]
  • 45% of employees agree that flexible time management is one of the most important factors that boost productivity [32]

 

 

What stops people from being productive?

What are the factors causing us to be less productive as a nation?

  • According to a report from Censuswide, the main factors affecting productivity are financial worries, work-life balance, and mental health issues – over 8 million employees experience a decline in productivity due to financial concerns [33]
  • Nearly a third of workers (31%) aged 21-34 said social media scrolling is a major work distraction and productivity killer [32]
  • 30% of employees believe that emails distract them most during the working day [32]
  • 27% of workers say that work chatter is one of the top distractions that stop them from being productive [32]
  • Employees who exercised only occasionally were 50% more likely to report lower productivity than employees who maintained a consistent exercise routine [27]
  • UK workers lose 61 working days in productivity every year due to mental health problems, according to research by employee wellbeing company Telus Health.

 

Work distractions which lower productivity

 

Do productivity tools and software help?

With the plethora of time-saving tools and software available today ; do any of them make us more productive?

  • 86% of UK workers agree that workflow automation software would boost productivity while making workers happier and improving morale [34]
  • The use of social tools can increase the productivity of knowledge workers by up to 25% [34]
  • Time-tracking software can increase productivity by 47%
  • Digital workplaces and online collaboration can support increased productivity by as much as 30% [36]

 

How does productivity impact businesses?

  • Each 1% increase in labour productivity leads to a 1% increase in shareholder value [37]
  • Lost productivity costs employers $1.8 trillion each year [38]
  • Engaged and more productive employees, result in a 21% increase in profits [39]

 

 

How will AI affect workplace productivity?

As AI (Artificial intelligence) continues to change the landscape of work, we explore the impact on workplace productivity, examining the transformative potential for employees and employers that accompany the integration of AI technologies.

 

AI for Employees

  • According to Capterra research, the majority of employees (96%) reported that AI significantly boosted their productivity, while 56% acknowledged that it had some level of positive impact on their work efficiency [40]
  • Using generative AI in business improves employee’s performance by 66%, according to the Nielsen Norman Group [44]

 

AI for Employers

  • Advancements in AI have the potential to automate approximately 300 million full-time jobs globally [42]
  • 83% of employees say that AI saved their company time and money
  • 80% believe that AI gave their company a competitive edge
  • 79% agree that AI helped to improve business performance [40]

 

4 day work week productivity

 

Does a 4-day week improve productivity?

Unlocking the promise of heightened productivity, the 4-day work week emerges as a compelling paradigm shift, with evidence from trials and studies suggesting that condensed schedules not only enhance employee well-being but also usher in a notable boost in overall productivity.

    • According to the 4-day week trial, organized by non-profit 4 Day Week Global, nearly 50% of employees in the UK reported a boost in productivity during the 4-day week, whether it was a slight improvement or a significant one.
    • According to the study from Conversation, a 4-day week could lead to an increase in productivity of about 10% [43]
  • Three in five (58%) workers feel they would be more productive with a 4-day work week [9]

 

Sources

[1] Office for National Statistics – International comparisons of UK productivity (ICP), final estimates: 2021: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/productivitymeasures/bulletins/internationalcomparisonsofproductivityfinalestimates/2021

[2] Office for National Statistics – Productivity: Key Economic Indicators: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn02791/

[3] Welcome to the Jungle – Does working eight hours a day really make sense?:

https://www.welcometothejungle.com/en/articles/8-hour-work-day

[4] LSE – Chronic under-investment has led to productivity slowdown in the UK: https://www.lse.ac.uk/News/Latest-news-from-LSE/2023/k-November-2023/Chronic-under-investment-has-led-to-productivity-slowdown-in-the-UK

[5] Office for National Statistics – Productivity overview, UK: January to March 2023: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/ukproductivityintroduction/januarytomarch2023

[6] Office for National Statistics – Productivity overview, UK: January to March 2023: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/ukproductivityintroduction/januarytomarch2023

[7] The Business Productivity Index, by ECI Software Solutions – Which industry has improved the most?: https://www.ecisolutions.com/en-gb/blog/ecis-productivity-index-which-industry-has-improved-the-most/

[8] Financial Times – UK productivity growth driven by minority of high-performing companies: https://www.ft.com/content/8f363db4-4122-4f04-8d7f-6b7498bc474f

[9] Opinium US – Future of Work:

https://www.opinium.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Future-of-Work-US-compressed.pdf

[10] Corporate Advisor – Over 55s cite ageism as barrier to employment: research

https://corporate-adviser.com/over-55s-cite-ageism-as-barrier-to-employment-research/

[11] Office for National Statistics – Mean weekly hours worked by men compared to women: https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/meanweeklyhoursworkedbymencomparedtowomen

[12] The World Bank – Exploring the labour productivity gap between businesses run by women and men:

https://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/exploring-labor-productivity-gap-between-businesses-run-women-and-men

[13] Centre for Ageing Better –  Older workers are the solution – not the cause – to the UK’s productivity problem: https://ageing-better.org.uk/blogs/older-workers-are-solution-not-cause-uks-productivity-problem

[14] Durham University Business School – London most productive region in the UK: https://www.durham.ac.uk/business/news-and-events/news/2022/01/london-most-productive-region-in-the-uk/

[15] Office for National Statistics – Subregional productivity in the UK: July 2022: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/regionalandsubregionalproductivityintheuk/july2022

[16] PwC – Wales sees second-highest productivity growth in the UK: https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/regions/wales/wales-sees-second-highest-productivity-growth-in-the-uk.html

[17] Office for National Statistics – Regional labour productivity, UK: 2021

https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/productivitymeasures/bulletins/regionallabourproductivityincludingindustrybyregionuk/2021#:~:text=Output%20per%20hour%20worked%20levels,compared%20with%20the%20UK%20average

[18] The Doers – Are Freelancers More Productive Than Employees?: https://www.thedoers.co.uk/blog/are-freelancers-more-productive-than-employees

[19] People Management – Half of employees feel more productive when working from home: https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1811252/half-employees-feel-productive-when-working-home-research-finds

[20] Hive – State of the Workplace: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/1833967/Hive%20State%20of%20the%20Workplace%20Report.pdf

[21] Airtasker – The Benefits of Working From Home:

https://www.airtasker.com/blog/the-benefits-of-working-from-home/?ref=ghost2.duome.co

[22] McKinsey – Women in the Workplace 2023

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-the-workplace

[23] Daily Mirror – Half of young workers claim they would be more productive – if they could work overseas:

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/jobs/remote-working-overseas-jobs-abroad-31799755

[24] The Statesman – Women perceived as less productive while WFH: Report:

https://www.thestatesman.com/lifestyle/women-perceived-less-productive-wfh-report-1502956742.html

[25] ACCA – ACCA’s UK Talent Trends in Finance 2023 uncovers the key issues facing the sector, including concerns over inflation, burnout and technology: https://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/news/2023/may/Talent-UK.html

[26] Facilitate – Younger workers are ‘leading workplace wellbeing charge more than any other demographic:

https://www.facilitatemagazine.com/content/news/2023/05/02/younger-workers-are-leading-workplace-wellbeing-charge-more-any-other

[27] Business News Daily – Want to Get More Done at Work? Eat Better:

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2963-healthy-diet-impacts-productivity.html

[28] Business News Daily – Music and Its Effect on Productivity:

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/11294-music-effect-on-productivity.html

[29] Early Bird – Making the Most of the Morning:

https://amerisleep.com/blog/making-the-most-of-the-morning/

[30] CNBC – The worst time of day to be productive, according to new Slack research

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/14/the-worst-time-of-day-to-be-productive-according-to-new-slack-research.html

[31] Core – Millennials and Gen Z create a paradigm shift in the way we work and interact: https://www.core.co.uk/blog/millennials-and-gen-z-create-a-paradigm-shift-in-the-way-we-work-and-interact

[32] Raconteur – What’s affecting employee productivity in 2023?

https://www.raconteur.net/future-of-work/whats-affecting-employee-productivity-in-2023

[33] UNUM – Over 8 million UK employees take productivity hit due t’.;oopl financial worries: https://www.unum.co.uk/about-us/media/productivity-hit-due-to-financial-worries

[34] Monday.com – monday.com’s Latest Survey Reveals an Overwhelming Amount of Employees Feel They Don’t Have the Software Tools They Need to Succeed

https://monday.com/p/press-release/monday-coms-latest-survey-reveals-an-overwhelming-amount-of-employees-feel-they-dont-have-the-software-tools-they-need-to-succeed/

[37] Luxafor – The Link Between Productivity And Business Profitability:

https://luxafor.com/the-link-between-productivity-and-business-profitability/

[38] Slack – The effects of low productivity on business growth:

https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/blog/collaboration/effects-low-productivity-business-growth

[39] Firstup – Why employee engagement is key to company success:

https://firstup.io/uk/blog/employee-engagement-key-to-company-success/

[40] Deloitte – More than four million people in the UK have used Generative AI for work:

https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/more-than-four-million-people-in-the-uk-have-used-generative-ai-for-work-deloitte.html

[41] People Management – Most employees rate some AI-generated software more highly than content crafted by humans, study finds

https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1835057/employees-rate-ai-generated-software-highly-content-crafted-humans-study-finds

[42] The Drum – 300m jobs could become automated around the world, plus other key AI stats:

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/07/12/300m-jobs-could-become-automated-around-the-world-and-other-key-ai-stats

[43] Phys.org – Four-day week trial confirms working less increases wellbeing and productivity:

https://phys.org/news/2022-12-four-day-week-trial-wellbeing-productivity.html

[44] Nielsen Group – AI productivity study: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ai-tools-productivity-gains/